One year ago today I put $300 into a seafood co-op called Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery, after a recommendation by my friend Chad Brealey (host of the food show Salt, Fresh & Field). The idea is a bit like going in on a cow with friends and filling your freezers, only it's seafood and you don't have to take a ton of food home all at once; you pick it up each week as it comes in fresh, and as you want it.
For the most part, commercial fishing in B.C. is ruled by large corporations. Over the years they've managed to buy up most of the licenses and quotas, conglomerating into huge operations that benefit shareholders. However there are still a number of smaller, family run fishing boats who manage to stay in business independently, and members of Skipper Otto's help these folks stay afloat by pre-purchasing a share of their catch.
Here's a quick video which explains how it works.
This Wednesday, May 31st is the deadline for you to get in on their upcoming season and ensure that you'll always have fresh seafood from local, independent fishermen. Visit skipperotto.com/sign-up/ to sign up.
Having been a member for the last year I can now give you a look at what being a member is like (IT IS THE BEST). Each week you'll get an email telling you what's just come in off the boats, and you'll get stories from and about the fishermen. You can put in an order through a checkout system online (or not) then go to one of the many pickup stations to grab it. The one I go to is adjacent Granville Island at Fisherman's Wharf.
When you arrive to pick up, there might be other items that catch your eye. You're free to add on to your order once you get there. They take the total dollar amount off of the money you put in.
Salmon are a favourite in my family, and I've added halibut to our order more than once. They have fresh, frozen, smoked, canned... however you like your seafood. Oh, and note that every single piece of fish that you get can be tracked directly back to the fisherman who caught it. The photo of the guy on my halibut here is the one who caught it. They call it "boat-to-fork transparency".
A quick check out with their friendly staff and you're done! That's co-founder Sonia Strobel on the right; she's often working at their Fisherman's Wharf location. Her husband is one of the fishermen, as is her father-in-law. Fishing in B.C. has always been a family affair and by joining Skipper Otto's you're helping to continue that tradition, while getting the first pick of the fresh fish that are caught here!
Again, sign up for the coming season ends this Wednesday. Sign up is here: skipperotto.com/sign-up/
Here's the pickup locations in and around Vancouver (the full list including locations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario is here):